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Gaining Financial Control Now and into the New Year

12/19/16 (Mon)

When finances aren't under control, it seems your entire life is out of control.  Where do you start?  I suggest you start at the beginning.  Start talking about money with friends, as a couple and as a family.  It's never too late to start.

Conversations about money include, where your household money comes from and where it goes.  You will come to appreciate statements like, “I work to earn the money, and I/we use money to pay expenses like your rent/mortgage, utility bills, groceries, insurance, gas, taxes, etc.”  Start to make the connection with your family on how your career, job, or farming income allows you and your family to live a certain lifestyle. This includes talking about things that are important to your family, i.e., spending time together, traveling, going out to eat, staying out of debt, etc.  Jot it down on paper so others can see how much those things “cost” and how you can work together to meet those goals.

You can start to set financial goals as a family based on your values.  After you have decided on a few initial family financial goals, pick one or two and break them down into short-term steps and work together to achieve those goals.

Give children an opportunity to earn money or provide them with an allowance.  A small weekly or monthly allowance gives them opportunity to do jobs around the house.  This is a natural way to help them learn the basics of managing money.  Talk with them about the importance of saving for future wants or needs, and the wisdom in planning their spending according to the money they have.  Create a visible savings “bank” in your home like a clear bank or jar so that everyone in the family can be contributing toward your first short-term goal.  Watching your savings grow toward your goal is encouraging for everyone.  Collect change!

For fun, have every member of the family keep a record of what they spend for one week (cash spent, checks written, debit and credit card used), and then get together and add it up.  Put together a family budget.  It doesn’t have to be exact, just something to get you started.  Talk about how much it costs for your family to live at your current level or lifestyle.

Talk about all of the financially-related responsibilities in the family and how you divide those responsibilities up.  Do this on a regular basis.  For example, how will each family member contribute to the family’s financial picture?  Who will earn the family’s income?  Who will take the lead on paying bills?  Who will make decisions about investing?  How will the children take part in saving for their future?

The more you communicate about your finances, the wealthier you all become.

To learn more visit our website at www.nd.gov/treasurer to find financial literacy resources and detailed fiscal information regarding our State.  We are on social media!  Be sure and like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for current information relating to your dollars and our office.